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Amtrak Lawsuits for Injuries and Wrongful Deaths

A blurred image of a high speed train is shown next to a set of empty tracks in the sunset. It is highly recommended that you speak with a train accident lawyer if you are thinking of filing an Amtrak lawsuit.

Amtrak lawsuits are among the most complex types of personal injury lawsuits. This is due in part to their magnitude, with many of these trains crashing at over 100 mph. There are often several parties to investigate for liability, similar to trucking accidents. To further complicate matters, the injuries are typically severe and victims need immediate financial relief to accommodate medical bills.

The train accident lawyers at The Smith Law Center are intimately acquainted with the laws surrounding railroad accidents, whether the injured person is a passenger or rail worker. On this page, we help explain Amtrak’s past negligence, their failure to uphold strict safety standards, and why filing an Amtrak lawsuit is different from other types of personal injury lawsuits. 

Amtrak Derailment Lawsuits in Recent Years

Over the last few years, Amtrak lawsuits have risen from train derailments and crashes that have occurred with alarming regularity. In the worst ones, it is the driver who fails to notice an object or curve and is traveling well above the speed limit.

Many of these have resulted in devastating losses and wrongful deaths. Major Amtrak crashes and derailments from just the last five years are as follows:

March 9, 2015: An Amtrak train bound from North Carolina to New Jersey derailed after hitting an oversized tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks in Halifax, North Carolina. The crash led to 55 injuries, including serious ones. 

May 12, 2015: Amtrak Train 188 derailed on a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. The driver was traveling at over twice the 50 mph speed limit on the curve.

April 3, 2016: Two maintenance workers were struck by an Amtrak train traveling at over 100 mph in Chester, Pennsylvania. The lead engine of the train derailed in the crash.

Dec. 18, 2017: Three people lost their lives and dozens more were injured when an Amtrak train derailed in Washington state. The train was traveling at nearly 80 mph — more than twice the speed limit for a curve. The National Transportation Safety Board later said the engineer told investigators he misjudged the train’s location.

January 31, 2018: A passenger in a truck died when a chartered Amtrak train collided with a garbage truck that was stopped on the Lanetown Road crossing in Crozet, Virginia.

February 4, 2018: An Amtrak train collided with a parked CSX train in Cayce in South Carolina. The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died in the collision. At least 92 passengers and members of the Amtrak crew were treated for injuries at local medical facilities.

The frequency and severity of these crashes are all too common, raising questions about how seriously Amtrak considers proper safety measures. Victims and their families have filed lawsuits asserting that their losses were preventable, and courts have often sided with them.

Amtrak Crashes Raise Safety Concerns 

Amtrak’s poor safety culture has been at the center of investigations from lawsuits against the rail service. In spite of having access to government funding, they fail to enforce strong safety standards and proper training for engineers.

For example, in the wake of the 2016 Philadelphia crash that killed two Amtrak workers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed the crash on negligent oversight. Amtrak workers at the crash site lacked required safety equipment for the railroad to steer trains around repair work on tracks, the NTSB stated.

The board found a combination of 20 safety lapses. Workers were not given a job briefing before high-speed trains were allowed back on the tracks.  

Similarly, the NTSB held a hearing after the Washington State crash of 2017, in which human error was to blame. The train’s engineer said that he failed to see the wayside signal at milepost 19.8, the curve where the accident occurred.

This lack of safety protocol has cost innocent lives and led to multiple high profile lawsuits. Our attorneys are experienced in handling Amtrak lawsuits and are available to give you a free legal consultation. Contact us to learn how we can help your family.

Lawsuits Brought Over Amtrak Crashes and Derailments

An image shows empty parallel train tracks under a cloudy sky. Amtrak derailment lawsuits have resulted in settlements in the millions of dollars.

Numerous Amtrak lawsuits have been brought over recent crashes. For example, in the 2015 Philadelphia crash mentioned above, the rail operator took responsibility for killing eight people. It said it would not oppose claims for damages such as medical expenses. 

However, the pool for payouts is capped under federal law at $295 million. This is the result of a 1997 ruling by congress known as the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act, which originally limited the amount victims could receive after an Amtrak crash to $200 million. That amount was later raised to $295 million in 2015.

In tragic incidents, such as the crash in Philadelphia, this pool could easily be exhausted given the number of deaths and serious injuries.

Among the many seriously injured, one passenger who sued Amtrak learned she was pregnant while in the hospital with broken bones and a concussion, her lawsuit stated. It was unclear if the crash harmed her unborn baby. The terms of the settlements reached by Amtrak were confidential.

Amtrak Injuries

Given their history of high-speed derailments and alleged oversight, both passengers and rail workers have suffered serious Amtrak injuries. When safety compliance isn’t taken seriously, the results can be disastrous.

For example, consider the fact that it takes an eight-car train moving 80 miles per hour at least a mile to stop (Minnesota Safety Council). Several deadly crashes have occurred with drivers traveling over 100 miles per hour on curves. It is no wonder that Amtrak crashes cause serious injuries.

Passenger injuries have included:

Rail workers have also paid the price for Amtrak’s carelessness. On-the-job injuries can include:

  • Slips and falls, such as on a platform or in a rail yard
  • Falling objects
  • Back injuries from climbing onto the train
  • Death from being struck by a train

These injuries can cause lifelong complications for the victim, bringing on massive medical bills and significant lifestyle adjustments. Tragic deaths can also leave families reeling from devastation.

Speaking with a train accident lawyer can offer you the direction your family needs to move on after an injury. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices.

Filing a Lawsuit Against Amtrak

Amtrak was founded almost 50 years ago in 1971.

Today, the railroad handles traditional interstate passenger rail in 46 states and operates high-speed trains along its busiest route, the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Amtrak has more than 500 destinations across a 21,000-mile system and has grown to 33 routes across America, according to its website.

Along with its growth, Amtrak continues to face ongoing legal action from injured consumers and their families. However, Amtrak lawsuits are unlike typical personal injury lawsuits for several reasons.

One distinction is that Amtrak receives government funding, even though it isn’t a government agency. This provides them with essentially limitless resources to face people in court. In addition to this, it is protected by certain laws that limit damages for anyone injured by Amtrak’s negligence.

Amtrak is not bound by many of the same elements as a typical personal injury case.

This is why it’s necessary to speak with an Amtrak injury lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured or died in a crash. The stakes are high and Amtrak has government funding at their disposal, making them a formidable opponent in litigation.

Speak to an Amtrak Accident Lawyer in Virginia

If you or a loved one were injured in an Amtrak train accident, it is highly recommended that you contact a train accident lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. We’re aware of how confusing this time can be and are available to bring clarity, understanding and hope.

The trial lawyers at The Smith Law Center have worked extensively with the victims of railroad crashes, and our results speak for themselves.

Please call us today for a free consultation to assess your case at (757) 695-9288.

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If you or a relative had a severe reaction to military housing mold, it might be time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Mold is everywhere, and can be dangerous. Researchers have linked mold to serious respiratory illnesses in some individuals.

Smith Law Center may be able to help if a property owner failed to keep you safe from mold in your military housing. We are one of Virginia’s oldest and most successful firms. We know how to hold negligent property owners responsible, especially when the military is involved.

Call us at (757) 244-700 or contact us online to set up a free consultation. There’s no fee for learning more about Virginia mold laws, your rights, and your legal options.

Mold in Military Housing

Black mold in military housing became widely known when Reuters published an investigation in 2018. Since then, the Department of Defense and the housing providers were supposed to take steps to improve the situation.

Unfortunately, a 2020 audit by the DoD Office of Inspector General found many issues, including the need for mold remediation, still persist.

Monetary Awards in Military Housing Toxic Mold Cases

If the property owner lets toxic mold run wild and continue to cause you harm, talk with our toxic mold attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

You may receive financial compensation for:

Service members and their families do not receive different types of damages than civilians. These are civil lawsuits in traditional courts of law.

Military Housing Mold Toxicity Symptoms

The Institute of Medicine discovered there was evidence connecting exposure to indoor mold with:

  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms;
  • Coughing;
  • Wheezing;
  • Asthma symptoms in individuals with asthma; and
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals with weak immune systems.

There is also limited evidence that mold causes respiratory illnesses in healthy children or causes people to develop asthma.

Understanding Exposure to Toxic Mold in Military Housing

The topic of toxic mold is complicated. This Is in part because the term “toxic mold” isn’t accurate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains mold isn’t toxic or poisonous. However, some molds are toxigenic, which means they produce toxins called mycotoxins.

Mold is common in military housing because it’ll grow anywhere there’s moisture. That includes on and inside walls, carpet, upholstery, wallpaper, and heating and air conditioning systems. This is especially pronounced in humid conditions such as those present in Virginia.

Some people have no difficulties around mold, even large infestations in their homes. Other individuals are sensitive to molds, including those that produce mycotoxins. Someone can have a severe reaction when exposed to a large amount of mold indoors.

People may be more likely to experience mold toxicity symptoms if they have:

  • Allergies,
  • An underlying lung disease,
  • Immune suppression,
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder,
  • Asthma, or
  • Another chronic respiratory disease.

Common Types of Military Housing Mold

When you’re trying to learn more from the CDC and other resources, you’ll see the word “fungus” a lot. Mold is a type of fungus, which is something that exists all around us. Fungi are living organisms different from animals, plants, and bacteria. There are over 200,000 types of fungi and over 100,000 types of molds.

If you discovered mold in your military housing, it could be Cladosporium, Penicillium, Stachybotrys chartarum, Aspergillus, or many other types. Stachybotrys is what everyone knows as black mold. Aspergillus is a common indoor fungus, which releases mycotoxins and can cause illness. Your symptoms may resemble common allergy or asthma symptoms.

Who is Liable for Military Housing Mold?

Since 1996, most military housing has come under the management of private companies:

  • Belfour Beatty Communities: Fort Eustis and Fort Story/li>
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Dahlgren, Little Creek, Naval Station Norfolk, Northwest Annex, Oceana, Portsmouth, Quantico, and Yorktown/li>
  • Hunt Military Communities: Fort Lee and Langley AFB

Outside of Virginia, Lendlease and Corvias Military Living are two more housing providers. Together, these five companies formed the Military Housing Association.

Military families living in on-base housing must take their complaints to their private management company — not the military. The company is responsible for providing habitable conditions and making repairs, including mold remediation.

If you’re unsure about your rights, review your state law and local ordinances about mold. In general, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide a habitable unit, which means it has to be safe to live in. A unit isn’t safe if it’s causing a tenant health issues due to mold.

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to disclose if there’s mold in the written report of the move-in inspection. If a tenant discovers visible mold in the unit, then the Act requires the landlord to remove the mold and relocate the tenant until it’s gone at no additional cost to the tenant.

Unfortunately, many families find their housing providers aren’t receptive to complaints. Attorney Stephen M. Smith has handled many mold lawsuits against military housing providers who fail to abide by their lease terms and the law when it comes to mold remediation and other hazards.

Other Hazards in Military Housing

Many service members and their families deal with uncomfortable, if not hazardous, conditions in privatized military housing, including:

Lead Paint: Lead-based paint can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures, organ damage, and in extreme cases, death.

Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos harms a person’s lungs, and can lead to lung fibrosis (scarring), lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Radon: Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. It naturally forms underground, however cracks and gaps in buildings lead to over-exposure indoors.

Poor Water Quality: Dozens of military sites have water with detectable levels of harmful chemicals.

Other issues involve rodent or insect infestations, pesticides, and faulty electrical wiring.

What Happens When a Lot of People Get Sick?

Sometimes mold exposure impacts a single individual or family. However, when the mold spreads throughout military housing, it can impact hundreds or thousands of people.

Occasionally, a large enough group of people are injured to allow for a class action or mass tort lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is one where a class representative acts as the plaintiff on behalf of the group of hurt individuals. Not every victim participates in the lawsuit. There are rules about when a group is big and similar enough to create a class action.

Mass tort lawsuits are different. When there are fewer plaintiffs who have their own set of circumstances, each person files a lawsuit. For efficiency’s sake, one or a couple of law firms may represent most plaintiffs, and the lawsuits are consolidated in a federal court.

Call the Military Housing Mold Lawyers at Smith Law Center for Help Right Away

Mold cases come about in a few ways. You or a loved one may start getting sick, and after weeks or months of struggling to find answers, you finally realize your military housing has a mold infestation. In other cases, you struggle with visible mold and then become ill.

Once you connect the illness with the mold, it’s time to talk with a toxic mold lawyer. Reaching out to an attorney early helps you build a strong compensation claim. We know how to collect evidence, identify who is liable, and craft a successful argument for a settlement or court award.

Attorney Stephen M. Smith has decades of experience handling injury claims and has been internationally recognized for his work. He has litigated cases involving catastrophic injuries and complex legal and scientific issues. In 2019, he was inducted into the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame.

You’re in good hands when you come to Smith Law Center for help. Reach out online or call (757) 244-7000 to schedule your 100% free consultation.

Military Housing Mold Lawsuits: FAQs

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